Report: Marketing leaders aren’t keeping up with the speed of data

The Forbes Insights/Treasure Data survey found that only 13 percent of marketers consider their companies 'leaders' in leveraging customer data.

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Data-driven marketing capabilities are on the rise, yet executives aren’t taking full advantage, according to the results of a global survey of 400 marketing executives released Wednesday by Forbes Insights and customer data platform (CDP) Treasure Data.

Despite the increase in companies using data in their marketing categories, the study, “Data Versus Goliath: Customer Data Strategies to Disrupt the Disrupters,” finds that “only 13 percent of companies can be considered ‘leaders’ in leveraging customer data.”  Marketers are divided into two categories: the aforementioned “leaders” and the remaining 87 percent — “laggards.”

These labels add up to real revenue differences, with those companies identified as leaders posting significantly higher returns (26 percent) than those identified as laggards (8 percent).

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From the report:

While business leaders recognize that they must move fast to become customer-data-driven enterprises, they’re nowhere close to the finish line. In fact, most are only starting to grasp the power of customer data.

Marketers who fear that their bottom line will be affected (51 percent) have shown a willingness to make changes to recapture their market share, such as shifting their business models to take advantage of data-driven strategies. More than half (55 percent) of the executives surveyed said that they’d be open to creating new markets and acquiring or partnering with others.

Unsurprisingly, the report found that 78 percent of those surveyed are turning to CDPs to better understand their data. It found that most marketers (73 percent) prefer an integrated approach to collecting and analyzing data, with gamification close behind (68 percent).

Real insights are still out of reach

Though everyone would agree that we are dealing with more data than ever before, companies are still struggling with the best ways to manage it. One issue is that with current systems, only management has access to data. Most of those surveyed (81 percent) report that only senior executives analyze and use data to guide strategy, while only 26 percent say that their staff employees work with data at all.

From the report:

While executive data analytics typically has been historical, meaning viewed through a “rearview mirror,” there is impetus to increase the levels of real-time data. Half of the executives in the survey indicate they seek to enable real-time decision making as part of their customer data analytics.

And even those companies that make data collection and analysis a priority are finding that they don’t necessarily have the right skills to understand it. Just 43 percent report that they can create and segment audiences, and only one in four say they can fully leverage the data that’s available.

Power to the employees

Marketers would like to see more of their team engaged with data, rather than rely on only senior executives.

Most executives (54 percent) say that their vision of a customer data-driven business is “one in which employees are rewarded for identifying and acting on opportunities identified through analytics.” Nearly half (47 percent) expect that all employees wear the “data analyst” hat at some level. Still, only 14 percent of employees have full autonomy at this time.

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Rob Glickman, chief marketing officer at Treasure Data, said that the survey “confirms that in order for organizations to better understand their customers — and have a fighting chance to compete with the industry behemoths — companies need to dive deep in the customer data from all sources.”

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Robin Kurzer
Robin Kurzer started her career as a daily newspaper reporter in Milford, Connecticut. She then made her mark on the advertising and marketing world in Chicago at agencies such as Tribal DDB and Razorfish, creating award-winning work for many major brands. For the past seven years, she’s worked as a freelance writer and communications professional across a variety of business sectors.

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